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Badgers tame Wildcats for Senior Night victory

(Matt McCarthy/Daily News photo) Niagara junior libero Abigail Wells (15) leaps up to make a play in the opening set of a Marinette-Oconto Conference match versus Lena on Tuesday night at Niagara High School. Lena’s Melanie Cops (26) prepares a block attempt.

NIAGARA, Wis. — It was Senior Night for the Niagara Lady Badgers volleyball team Tuesday night — their last regular season home game — and they won in fairly convincing fashion over Lena, 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-10) in a Marinette-Oconto Conference dual.

In usual fashion, Niagara came out with strong serving and communication. Sophomore Erin Lukowicz is Niagara’s opening server, and before some people were settled in their seats, the home team led 10-0.

The Wildcats did make a small dent in the Badgers’ lead, with a four-point burst behind the serving of Alabama Lambert. However the strong net play and passing of Niagara was too much for Lena throughout most of the set and match.

“Tonight was a good win for us, we played very strong in set one and three,” said veteran Niagara head coach Carol St. Arnauld. “Set two Lena came to life, they put the ball in play and we made lots of mistakes and our communication in set two was poor.”

The second set was by far the most competitive, with Lena taking an early lead. In fact, the Wildcats led 12-7 — extending it to 18-12.

There were two different points in set two with long rallies. Niagara began their comeback with aggressive all-around play while the powerful serving of Morgan Borchardt had Lena reeling.

Lena led until the Badgers tied the score at 20-20 with a Borchardt ace. Niagara never relinquished the ball or the lead, taking the set, 25-20.

“Set two shows the resilience of this group, the way they were able to come back,” St. Arnauld said. “Lena played scrappy tonight, they were covering most of our hits.”

The final set was very one-sided. With Abby Wells serving and the ball placement of front row hitters Bailey Pearson, Borchardt and freshman Mallory Sanicki, Niagara got out to 18-1 lead, and never looked back.

“Abby served the ball well tonight, and so did Morgan,” St. Arnauld added. “They have a similar style of serving that gives opponents a struggle in serve receive.”

Wells played well in the back row throughout the match, and Sanicki had some timely kills for the Badgers.

The Badgers and Wildcats will have a rematch on Thursday, as Lena will host a M&O Conference triangular to wrap up the regular season. Gillett will be the third team competing Thursday night at Lena.

Niagara will open up WIAA Division 4 Regional play Tuesday night, as they will host Northern Lakes Conference member Phelps at 7 p.m.

Niagara Stats

Isabel Jacobs: 2 assists, 3 digs

Erin Lukowicz: 3 aces, 1 kill, 1 assist, 8 digs

Lily Loukus: 1 ace, 2 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig

Steph Maes: 3 digs

Morgan Borchardt: 4 aces, 8 kills, 1 block, 18 assists, 3 digs

Abby Wells: 6 aces, 1 kills, 3 assists, 9 digs

Bailey Pearson: 9 kills, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 2 digs

Mallory Sanicki: 7 kills, 1 block, 1 assist

Emma Brasure: 1 ace,

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